Water Equity and Climate Resilience

Across the country, communities face mounting threats to their water security. Increased climate-change-related flooding, sea-level rise, and drought threaten people's homes, lives, and the ecosystems they rely upon. Millions of Americans live in communities that do not have access to reliable safe drinking water. Many live in areas where the cost of water is unaffordable, and children across the country attend schools where their drinking water is contaminated with lead
Decades of structural racism, infrastructure underinvestment, and unjust policies have created the perfect storm for the unprecedented disruption unleashed in our country by Covid-19. What was once a crisis growing in the dark, the call by medical and public health experts to wash our hands and sanitize our surroundings to protect against Covid-19, has forced our nation to confront its shortcomings- households and communities across the country, especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color, do not have access to our nation’s most basic PPE- safe and affordable water. Before the pandemic, an estimated 15 million people, mostly people of color struggling with poverty and unemployment, experienced water shutoffs when they couldn’t pay their bills. With the ongoing public health and economic crisis, millions more are at risk of water shutoffs and the water debt across small and large systems is only growing. The devastating correlation between Covid morbidity and water shutoffs further highlights how water is life-sustaining and life-giving.
As a result of these conditions, there has been significant movement in the calls for new equity-focused climate-resilient investment to address the water threats to low-income communities and communities of color.
In April 2018, PolicyLink launched the national Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus to build a national network of organizations working to address water equity and climate resilience — centering frontline communities of color and low-income communities and in 2019 Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy joined the Caucus as co-chair. The  Caucus builds a shared analysis and understanding of the problems, codifies policy strategies, and enables members to deliver on water equity results for their communities. The Caucus does this through peer learning, tool & knowledge development, and holds shared local, state, and tribal advocacy but primarily focuses on federal advocacy.